Is there a word or expression for a small chat that is about how people are? For having a bit of context, two characters, who meet up almost on a daily basis, ask each other how they are, before talking about more important subjects. I tried to search for a definite answer, but I haven't found anything suitable. As far as I know, small talk might be used, but that includes more subjects, like weather, work and what not. The other one could be stating that they simply had a chat, but that could be again about almost any subject. Catching up would be the most appropriate one I could think of, but that for me seems as if there should me way more time between the two talking to each other than just a few days. For me catching up has always been associated with long time no see type of conversations. The sentence I want the word to use in is:

  • After a small chat about their well-being and James’s shopping list they made their way to the supermarket.

  • I don’t think there’s one specific to well-being. You didn’t ask, but I doubt there’s one specific to shopping lists either. :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 5:30
  • Thanks for your answer. You might be right. But just to clarify, I am not looking for a synonym for well being but for a word or expression for chatting about how the persons involved in the conversation are.
    – Anne Kate
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 5:39
  • 2
    They exchanged pleasantries
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 6:00

2 Answers 2


I think the word you're looking for is pleasantries:

3 : a polite social remark
// exchanged pleasantries

There is also gossip, but it's something more intentional and focused than just chatting about the weather or traffic.


After exchanging pleasantries about their well-being and James’s shopping list they made their way to the supermarket.


For me, you have almost said it yourself: "small talk".

This is conversation between people which is will never offend; "How are you?", "Did you find us OK?", "How was the traffic?".

It often precedes a meeting or even something like a Doctor's appointment, or can be the entire conversation between people who are forced together, maybe in the Doctor's waiting room.

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